Scotiabank Arena is built on the site of the Canada Post Delivery Building and still retains the east and south walls, setting the context for this 665,000 square foot facility.
A conservation program was implemented during construction of the original building facade. Stonework, bas-relief plans, and historic window profiles were restored.
The roof is 40 feet above the existing facades and has a profile designed to be flat, giving the appearance of a hangar. This allows for better acoustics inside and a prominent city presence outside without blocking the view of other landmark buildings.
Architects: Brisbin Brook, Beynon Architects, well known for other projects such as GM Place, Vancouver; Metro Hall, Toronto; Metropolitan Life Building, Toronto; and the World Trade Centre, Ottawa.
Contractors: PCL Constructors Eastern Inc., Canada’s largest general contractor, constructed the arena and office tower.
Economic Stimulus: Scotiabank Arena’s existence over the first ten years of operation is estimated to result in an economic benefit of $2.4 billion.
The construction was motivation for other downtown development associated with the Railway Lands East. Approximately $13 million in public infrastructure was built ahead of schedule due to private financing made available in conjunction with the project. Projects include the Bay West Teamway, Union Plaza, the Galleria, and Bremner Boulevard. No public funding was used.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has the most valuable portfolio of corporate partners in Canadian professional sports including companies such as Scotiabank, Molson, and Coca-Cola. Their 50 Blue-Chip partners are broken down into three categories: Platinum, Gold, and Silver.
Groundbreaking: February 1997
Opening Hockey Game: February 20, 1999
(Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens)
Opening Basketball Game: February 21, 1999
(Toronto Raptors vs. Vancouver Grizzlies)
Opening Concert: February 22, 1999
(The Tragically Hip)
Naming Rights: Air Canada Centre (February 1999 to June 2018), Scotiabank Arena (As of July 2018)
Site History: The Postal Delivery Building was commissioned by the Federal government in 1938 to serve the growing population of Toronto and surrounding municipalities. Designed by architect Charles Dolphin and completed
in 1940, the building was immediately occupied by the Department of National Defence in support of the war effort. In 1946, following the end of the war, the building was transferred to Canada Post which proceeded to modify the structure to serve its intended purpose as a postal delivery building. Alterations included installation of the necessary interior machinery for sorting mail as well as a vertical addition at the building’s northeast corner to house a staff cafeteria and administrative space. Work was completed in 1948.
In the early 1970s, Canada Post constructed a new letter processing plant on Eastern Avenue and began transferring some of the functions of the Postal Delivery Building to the new facility. In 1989, rather than upgrade the decades old building, Canada Post opted to shutter the Postal Delivery Building in favour of the Eastern Avenue location. The building was subsequently sold to a consortium of developers who, amid the recession on the early 1990s, ran into financial difficulties and ownership of the building returned to Canada Post.
Development of the Arena: In 1995, the Toronto Raptors were established as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada, requiring a new indoor arena to house the team. After consideration of multiple sites in Toronto, including Exhibition Place, North York Centre, Bay and Wellesley, and Bay and Dundas, the Postal Delivery Building was selected for its large site and central location. The property was purchased from Canada Post for $60 million and work on the $288 million dollar Air Canada Centre began in 1998.
Designed by Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects to house both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, the project retained and incorporated the primary elevations of the Part IV designated building into the new arena.
As part of the construction of the Air Canada Centre, conservation work was undertaken to repair the east and south elevations of the Postal Delivery Building, including the bas reliefs. This entailed re-carving damaged areas of stone to restore the original profile and outline of the sculptures, water misting for desalination, baking soda blasting, removal of existing mortar, Dutchman repairs, patching, repointing, and stone strengthening.
Construction of the building was substantially completed by December 1998 with the first hockey and basketball games taking place in February 1999. In the late 2000s, the Air Canada Centre was enlarged with modifications made to the western elevation of the building and public realm improvements made to Bremner Blvd.
In 2017, Scotiabank signed an $800 million dollar agreement for the naming rights to the Air Canada Centre (to be known as Scotiabank Arena).